I realize that to most of you, a few hours in the pub with your fellow Evertonians before a game is as natural as breathing, but tonight was the first time for me. Before the Juventus game, Pedro’s Cantina on Third Street in San Francisco was filled with more Everton fans than I’ve ever seen in one place. (That’s not a high bar to clear because, in all the years I’ve supported Everton, I’ve never met another supporter here in the US.) I heard songs I didn’t know the words to, and got to shake hands with Graeme Sharp.

Meeting an Everton legend was the big thrill, and he couldn’t have been more accommodating.

I’m referring, of course, to Lyndon.

Don’t get me wrong, Sharpie was great, but there’s only one Lyndon. There were several other TWers on hand as well. It was a blast for me.

On to the stadium, where Juve fans somewhat outnumbered us in a crowd of 22,000. (San Francisco has a huge Italian community.) Howard and Baines got the loudest cheers in the introductions, and Tevez got a distinct mix of boos. The only surprise in our lineup was John Stones, making his debut at right back. I was seated next to a loudmouthed Yank Juve fan who didn’t know the offside rule. Neither, apparently, did the officials, who waved off Pienaar’s early free kick even though the offside Jags hadn’t played the ball before it went into the net.

For better or worse, the Martinez Everton looks a lot like the Moyes Everton... a mix of sharp interior passing and long balls to Big Vic, who was in midseason form with his falls and foul complaints. To do him justice, however, he did force several wrestling takedowns from the Juve defenders and earned a bunch of free kicks. The last of those was taken by Mirallas and deflected onto the head of Stones, who flicked it off the inside of the post. Can you imagine being a 19-year-old debutante and scoring your first Blue goal against the legendary Juventus? He was an inch away.

The fun really started in the second half. First, Mirallas broke through off a flick from Vic and was stopped at short range by Storari. Then, just as my buddy and I moved down behind the Juve goal, Vic stole the ball (his defensive work tonight was outstanding) and fed Gibbo, who sent Mirallas away down the right with enough space to plant a good-sized corn crop. Kev cut in on his left foot past a flailing Peluso and slotted the ball perfectly into the short side. 1-0.

That’s when the curtain came up on The Tim Howard Show. To the TW contingent who’ve been agitating for Howard to be replaced – you know who you are, I don’t need to name names – tell me, which of his saves did you like the best? The dive on the free kick? The leg save on Vidal? The spectacular lunge to the left on Tevez? Or the point-blank stop on Vucinic that ended with Timmy holding the ball over the goal line like a waiter holding a tea tray?

There was some fun at the Juve end too after Baines and Gibbo, both carrying nicks, were replaced by Osman and Oviedo. Kev immediately crossed for Oviedo, whose diving header was stopped superbly, and Bryan then worked himself loose for a shot over the bar. His confidence was obvious. Pienaar’s, however, was not – he was gifted a clear breakaway by the hopeless Peluso and somehow pushed it wide.

And that was costly, because after Storari stopped Mirallas again, Ossie had a defensive brain lock. He let a gently rolling ball slide right off his foot to Asamoah, who has a left foot like a rocket launcher. I swear you could hear the impact from the other end of the stadium. 1-1.

Barkley came on in the final minutes and nearly won it – had his screaming shot been anywhere but right at the keeper, it would have been unstoppable – but it was on to penalties.

Ossie got the first call, but his brain was still locked. Awful. Barkley and Kev scored on perfectly accurate blasts, and Jags and Oviedo succeeded with equal aplomb, but the Juve guys were hitting nothing but the side netting, giving Howard no chance (although he did stop some yahoo who jumped onto the pitch and took a shot himself). So when Pirlo stepped up for the game-winning final kick, you had to figure it was over.

I’d bet that Pirlo hasn’t shot wide on a penalty since he was eight years old. We couldn’t believe it.

And then guess who gave the old grandmaster a pen lesson? The kid. Stones stepped up and calmly chipped – CHIPPED – into the top corner. Stones? Hell yes. Big ones. Huge. The Evertonians went crazy.

Motta equalized, Coleman hammered one down the middle, and then up next was poor Peluso. He never had a prayer. Howard ate it up. And the Old Lady was beaten.

MotM had to be Timmy, but this may have been a very special night, the coming out of John Stones. In addition to his near-miss header and some good passing, he blocked at least two shots and made a great saving tackle on Asamoah shortly before his goal.

It was sure as hell special for me. I got to see Everton play in person, and be surrounded by Evertonians, for the first time in my life. Awesome.

Thus ends my career as a TW match reporter, unless the Blues come back some day. Or until I make it to Goodison Park!

Share this article

Reader Comments (46)

Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer

Julian Wait
1 Posted 01/08/2013 at 14:35:12
Mike - welcome to the club, it's a very special one! Wish I could have made it there from Texas, seriously would love to make the trip to LA for Saturday but will have to suffice with TV I think.

And meeting THE Lyndon? Special night indeed :-p

Peter Laing
2 Posted 01/08/2013 at 14:52:23
Mike, thanks for the report a thoroughly enjoyable read. I'm glad that you have been able to savour the whole 'match-day' experience both pre and post match banter and a sing-a-long over a couple or more beers. For those lucky enough such as myself I guess we kigh of take for granted the ritual and customs that are played out on a match day, for me this is often as much part of the experience as watching the game and makes the daily grind all the more bearable with the game to look forward to. I hope that you are able to get across the pond sometime soon to visit Goodison / Liverpool and I'm sure that there would be many toffeeWebers who would be more than happy to show you the sites.

On another issue but possibly related was a report on S

Mike Cheshire
3 Posted 01/08/2013 at 14:58:00
Excellent report Mike. I hope you make it over to the Grand Old Lady soon.
Peter Laing
4 Posted 01/08/2013 at 14:58:06
Sky Sports yesterday which had the owner of SF 49ers who are due to play at Wembley stating that he could be open to an offer or an approach to invest in a team in the EPL — what's your thoughts?
Mike Gaynes
5 Posted 01/08/2013 at 15:12:27
Thanks, Peter. I should point out as well that this was not, I’m sure, the typical Everton pre-game experience. Not only were we cheerfully sharing Pedro’s with a couple dozen Juve fans, but one idiot Yank kept wandering around in a red Gerrard jersey. I assume that anyone trying to pull that in an Everton pub in England would leave some blood on the floor, if not the walls. This guy didn’t even get splashed with beer, just a few boos. But this is, after all, squishy-nice San Francisco.

With regards to a 49ers investment, I doubt it would be very much or very soon. The 49ers owners aren't the wealthiest around, and they are very much focused on moving into a new stadium right now. But there's no question that possible NFL expansion into London would fire up more interest over here.

David Pearl
6 Posted 01/08/2013 at 15:12:46
Great Report, thanks Mike - I stayed up last night and feeling the effects still of the bottle I whiskey I nearly demolished. Funny I had neighbours knock on my door at 1 am asking if I was ok as they heard screaming. Just a friendly. ha. Stones, now he going to be a player! Duffy stepped over, I'm sure that's saved us a few mil.
Richard Dodd
7 Posted 01/08/2013 at 15:27:53
Great report,Mike- Very Steve Buckleyesque !

Some guy who I thought they said was the owner of the 49ers was on Sky yesterday saying he `might be interested` in investing in `UK soccer` but at present he was working on a `a billion dollar re-built` of his stadium back home. Anybody see it?

Bet BK had changed channels and missed it !

Paul Ferry
8 Posted 01/08/2013 at 15:33:52
Nice one Mr Gaynes, although I don't know how you stayed sober enough to take notes and/or ransack memory banks. Have to disagree about MOM. Yes, Timmy had in particular a roaring 2nd half, but Stones has to be MOM with Timmy not far behind. Just seen Stones's post-match interview and we clearly have one more down-to-earth star in the making.

A very reassuring night.

OK, heading down the Pacific Coast Highway after lunch to LA. The boys will enjoy the trip in the coach, it is a spectacular drive.

Mike Gaynes
9 Posted 01/08/2013 at 16:12:26
Watch for a tiny town on the coast called Moss Beach. That's where I live. Have the driver honk when you go by.
Julian Wait
10 Posted 01/08/2013 at 16:27:44
Wish I was there but enjoying all the reports and banter vicariously ... Paul - how is your head this morning :-p ?

Ken Buckley
11 Posted 01/08/2013 at 16:31:06
Great account and you met that TW boss hell we don't get that in L4. Hope you can make it over sometime and take in all the rituals of matchday and have time to explore Liverpool 1. Everton 2. If possible try to make time for an away trip, any game will do, we always take full contingant, and you will get a full, head on, raw Blues experience. However the team are playng those travelling fans will give you an experience you will never, ever forget. Well done Mike. UP THE BLUES.
Paul Ferry
12 Posted 01/08/2013 at 17:12:23
Surprisingly good thanks Julian, although I'll be the first to put my hands up and say I deserved a storming hangover.

For some reason I thought that you lived in Texas Mike (Gaynes). Cartmel, Carmel, Clint Eastwoodville is a good place to stop and eat and drink right?

Mike Gaynes
13 Posted 01/08/2013 at 17:39:22
Yes, cute little town with lots of good restaurants. Farther south Cayucos, Pismo Beach and of course Santa Barbara are great stops.
Rob Griffin
14 Posted 01/08/2013 at 17:41:57
Great review Mike. Sounds like a dream come true experience. I considered making the trip to Miami from my home in Maine but couldn't swing it financially. One day I'll jump the pond and be able to take it all in, it's definitely a WHEN and not an IF!
Paul Ferry
15 Posted 01/08/2013 at 17:53:06
Ken Buckley? Richard Dodd (787) Wish you were here.
Tommy Davis
16 Posted 01/08/2013 at 17:36:40
Superb report Mike G, even though I watched it on FSC & was communicating with my son, who was also at the match, you can't beat a 'live' report in my book!! Shame I wasn't still in Laguna Beach, I would deffo had been there last night, but glad quite a few TWers attended, along with other Bluenoses!!

I hope another report is imminent from LA this weekend Mike, really enjoyed your report & viewpoint!! Oh, almost forgot, I did manage to chat with Sharpy on the phone, thanks to my son Chris, for fixing that one up & Graeme Sharp is indeed a wonderful bloke, very unassuming & modest, as I ranted on about his greatness & goals, in THOSE 80's teams!!

There is something about Roberto M, that I have always liked, wouldn't it be something indeed, if he was even remotely close to emulating HK1?!? One can only dream eh!?!

Tony Cheek
17 Posted 01/08/2013 at 18:10:45
Must have been a great day for you Mike, and thanks for the report, really enjoyed it. I agree with you about our two best players although would disagree about MOTM. John Stones is 19, playing his first full game for the first team, plays like a veteran, makes some amazing tackles, nearly scores and all this, not against Accrington Stanley or even Blackburn, but Juventus FFS! It looks like we are going to owe Moyesy for this one, what a player he is going to be, already an old head on young shoulders. This lad is going to (hopefully) give us supporters a lot of pleasure.

And yes I am one of the TW contingent that would like to see a better keeper than Howard playing. There are reasons for this. One of them being I think he has cost us too many points in the last couple of seasons. But don't think I don't enjoy watching him play like he did against Juve. Absolutely brilliant, and if I could rely on performances like that all season then I am more than happy to see him in the team. His best period last season was after Mucha had a couple of games and pushed him for a place, mabe Robles has put him on his toes.
I just fear that when the PL is underway again then it will be back to normal, but really hope he proves me wrong.

I try not to judge a player on one game, but see what he is bringing to the table. Football supporters are quite fickle that way Mike, they will slag a player for games on end and then he plays a blinder and suddenly he is god again.
But thats the charm of football I suppose.

Mike Gaynes
18 Posted 01/08/2013 at 19:10:26
Tony, you do make a good argument for Stones, but MOTM is for the guy most responsible for the victory, and if Howard isn't making his magic, we lose, simple as that.

We definitely have viewed him with different eyes over the past couple seasons. What we saw last night was his shot-stopping, at which he is one of the very best. His weaknesses are in the air and distribution, but I say he's currently the most reliable starting keeper in the Prem and has cost fewer points with mistakes than any other keeper you can think of. I have the odd habit of collecting howlers, and aside from Given and Friedel, who are now backups, Howard has the fewest of anybody in the league.

Mike Gaynes
19 Posted 01/08/2013 at 19:26:25
By the way, to the Juve fans around me... who didn't know Stones was a teenager... Distin was our best defender last night. They were shaking their heads at how the old man was dominating their young forwards.
Jim Lloyd
20 Posted 01/08/2013 at 19:52:41
Another good report Mike. I'm chuffed that you had a great time with other Blues, before the match. You're right, that's all part of the ritual for the day and most enjoyable. Talk nothing but football for hours. Well not really, all kinds of subjects come up but it keepscoming back tothe Blues. Great it is and I hope you get a chance to get over trhe pond. You will have a ball.
Well done again lad.
Peter Mills
21 Posted 01/08/2013 at 20:17:12
Excellent stuff Mike.
Patrick Murphy
22 Posted 01/08/2013 at 20:49:35
The LA Times is reporting that A Real Madrid training session open to the public Friday will be moved to UCLA from StubHub Center in Carson, the Galaxy announced Wednesday.

Everton FC of England, another soccer giant that had planned an open session at StubHub Center -- the Galaxy's home field -- Friday afternoon, now will not take part because of the change in venue, the Galaxy said.

Those three teams, along with Juventus of Italy, will play the following day in a doubleheader at Dodger Stadium as part of the inaugural Guinness International Champions Cup.

Real Madrid has been training at UCLA since arriving Sunday and "requested the change of venues in order to maintain a consistent training schedule during their stay," the Galaxy said.

General-admission tickets for the session were $35 and "Everton supporters who are not interested in watching [the] Real Madrid training session will be offered a full refund" until noon PDT Friday, the Galaxy said.

If this is old news I apologise but some people may not be aware and I wouldn't want them to be disappointed

James Flynn
23 Posted 01/08/2013 at 21:32:29
Not surprised about Galaxy. They're in mid-season and not doing well.

I am certain our lads will be playing Real Madrid. Good stuff. Madrid is waaaaaaay better than Galaxy and I anticipate nothing more than cameos for Keane and Donovan.

Lyndon Lloyd
24 Posted 01/08/2013 at 22:04:28
Mike, you are far too kind, sir! As you Americans like to say, I very much "felt the love" from all the ToffeeWebbers I've met this week from far and wide.

It's been an absolutely cracking few days. More on all of it to come shortly once I get some time to bash out some thoughts.

Great report by the way!

Julian Wait
25 Posted 01/08/2013 at 22:11:58
Paul - I do live in Texas, but family and work circumstances prevented me from attending. I must admit I am feeling a bit left out ... will be watching and monitoring the live TW feed / chatterboxes jealously on Saturday.

So if that was not you with the hat running on the pitch, who was it?

Guy Hastings
26 Posted 01/08/2013 at 22:25:38
Either I'm missing something or the SF Chronicle is - any build-up or report to the game on their site.
Jamie Sweet
27 Posted 01/08/2013 at 23:20:04
Thanks Mike and I'm glad you had such a great first experience of watching the Blues.

Shame you won't be contributing any more match reports, because lines like "Mirallas away down the right with enough space to plant a good-sized corn crop" are absolute gold! I like your style.

I'd be interested on how you managed to track down Lyndon. Despite your correct assertion that he is an Everton legend - his isn't a face we see in the media very often. Everton shirt with number 9 and Lloyd on the back? Stood at the bar holding a single blue rose? Name badges?

I can imagine fellow toffeeWebber Paul Ferry was much easier to spot. He would have been the very very drunk one trying to chat up all the ladies!

Paul Ferry
28 Posted 01/08/2013 at 23:42:31
Julian (900) it was me, it was me, now out of custody, speeding down the Pacific Coast

Jamie (020) I was very very very drunk not very very drunk, and I made one pathetic attempt at a chat-up line - suggested, was it by you, I can't remember - and I was rightly roundly rebuffed.

The old English accent can go a long way over there though.

Mike(839): Timmy 'currently the most reliable starting keeper in the Prem and has cost fewer points with mistakes than any other keeper you can think of'. I just can't agree with this but you were spot on about him yesterday. Don't mean to be a geek/troll but I bet there are stats in the cyber-sphere to counter this. I'm more with Tony, Tim cost us some goals last season.

On another note: thanks ever so much for all the tips, staying in Santa Barbara this evening, thanks ....

Paul Ferry
29 Posted 01/08/2013 at 23:51:33
and Shack is playing in the car ........
Jamie Sweet
30 Posted 02/08/2013 at 00:37:50
Paul (928) Me suggesting to someone a good chat up line would be about as much use as David Moyes giving tips to Roberto Martinez on ways to come across more happy and positive in interviews. It is something I have only ever failed miserably at myself!

I believe it was Patrick who made the suggestion yesterday. Something about a moon wasn't it? Perhaps you mis-interpreted it in your drunken state. Is that why you were arrested?!

Karl Masters
31 Posted 02/08/2013 at 00:31:01
Making me jealous remembering my trip to the West coast a few years back and that drive down the coastal highway. Muir Woods, Alcatraz, The 17 mile drive, Monterey, Carmel, Pismo Beach, Hearst Castle, Santa Barbara Pier, that Danish inspired town whose name escapes me etc, etc. Those were the days, wore my Everton shirt too I recall and my wife and two daughters still say it was the best holiday we have been on on the States and we've been over lots of times. California rocks as the Americans might say!

LA will be much warmer than SanFran, no fog there, but a massive urban sprawl and not as picturesque as San Fran

Our second favourite holiday was to Miami so Evertonians going there for the last game are in for a great time in what is a great place to holiday although very hot and steamy in August!

You lucky so and so's!!

Paul Ferry
32 Posted 02/08/2013 at 01:52:51
Spot on Karl (940) SF is miles better than LA. I once spent 6 months in Manhattan Beach, nice, but the greater area is traffic, smog, dilapidation rubbing shoulders with ostentatious wealth, greed, need.

Was there in April '03 when the Rodney King trial was on, and we got on a bus in Pasadena to Hollywood Blvd (a mistake) and as we got on poor Ruth, an English rose, looked at an African-American sitting at the front of the bus who said to her: 'honky you gonna fry when Rodney's verdict comes out'!


Saegaran Kana
33 Posted 02/08/2013 at 02:04:45
John Stones and Ross Barkley impressed me but Fella and Pienaar were not as sharp as they should be. Overall, good morale booster and hope the team will gel better in the coming weeks.
Mike Gaynes
34 Posted 02/08/2013 at 02:11:03
Jamie Sweet (920), Lyndon was kind enough to invite me to meet him at the bar before the game (did you know that as the site boss here he has all our email addresses?), and sent me a photo of him with Dr. David France. With that info in hand, I was able to spot Lyndon's shiny pate towering over the crowd.

What a nice gentleman he is.

Paul Ferry
35 Posted 02/08/2013 at 04:56:15
HA HA nice Mike, glad you had a great time with Lyndon and co
Adam Fenlon
36 Posted 02/08/2013 at 05:16:36
Real Madrid 3-1 up now - looks like we'll be playing them on the weekend.
Tony Cheek
37 Posted 02/08/2013 at 08:39:48
My last word on the MotM, Mike.

Tim Howard performed as he should do, done what he is payed to do, what he is expected to do, and was brilliant at it against Juventus. Would you say the same about Stones? Did you expect him to play like that, a young debutee, unflustered, calm and going 90 mins without a fault, looking like a seasoned pro?

Sorry Mike, this was John Stones's day!

Ken Crowther
38 Posted 02/08/2013 at 08:21:28
Mike, that was a great contribution, thank you.

I'm always staggered by the number of non-English Evertonians who inhabit TW.; and I get a little dewy-eyed when one of you tells the rest of us about his/her first experience.

Those of us who started life in "the 'pool" and moved away — in my case, eventually, by a little less than 150 miles (but I got too old to do the round-trip very often) — naturally consider ourselves committed to the cause; but I wonder what caused you (plural) to take up the blue-and-white.

Indeed Michael/Lyndon don't you think that might make a nice human-interest piece on a slow news day? Something on the lines of "My name used to be Saul; but when I was on the road to Damascus...".

Hope that was biblically accurate, I get to church a little less often than I get to the GOL these days.

Simon Temme
39 Posted 02/08/2013 at 10:50:05
Mike, thanks for a great read, it confirmed to me again what a truely magnificent thing it is to be part of the Everton family. We may be many things but we are without doubt CHOSEN.
Every where I go it is special to meet fellow Evertonians, even as an excilled scouser living in Bristol, my local boozer contains three other scouse blues. Welcome to the club Mike and in ToffeeWeb you have found THE best site to connect with very special people.

P.S. I don't think I have been more excited about a forthcoming season since 85/86.

Given time IMO Roberto will bring back the great times we have all missed.

Harold Matthews
40 Posted 02/08/2013 at 17:43:22
Another great report Mike.
I'm normally critical of Howard but,for me, he was MOM. Stones did well but made 2 or 3 mistakes. Howard made none.
Paul Roderick
41 Posted 03/08/2013 at 02:16:37
Howard always plays better in these type of games – preseason friendlies when there is really no pressure on him.

He did play well... but, in my opinion, still not great. He made a couple of okay saves, saved a poor pen, and made one excellent reaction save (which came about because he didn't deal well enough with the original effort by Tevez – getting down too late and pushing the ball back into play.)

I still feel (as I have for numerous seasons now) that, to really progress, we need to replace him with a better more consistent keeper. (Is Joel the man?????)

Jim Potter
42 Posted 03/08/2013 at 17:29:12
Nice one Mike. As you are obviously a lucky charm (with a 100% win ratio) it is your moral duty to now move to Liverpool.
Jim Potter
43 Posted 03/08/2013 at 17:44:51
Nice one Mike. As you are obviously a lucky charm (with a 100% win ratio) it is your moral duty to now move to Liverpool.
Jim Potter
44 Posted 03/08/2013 at 17:45:26
Like New York - so good I sent it twice.
John Crawley
45 Posted 04/08/2013 at 19:09:31
Mike thanks for the report, thoroughly enjoyed reading it. As a Liverpool based blue you tend to take the whole match going experience for granted and your report made me stop a bit and consider how lucky I am to be here enjoying this every year. Hopefully we'll get to see you coming over and experiencing Everton at Goodison first hand.
Ryan Sloan
46 Posted 05/08/2013 at 11:40:33
So let me get this right: we could beat Valencia, and LA Galaxy could lose to Milan (which is quite likely) and we would finish 5th? It's an absolute farce. I'm disappointed we're not playing Milan, because I think we would've beaten them.

On a positive note, it's pre-season and if we can beat Valencia, it will be a very good trip, and great for the lads going into the season.

ps: I'm really glad our American Toffees could see the boys in action, and in a more glamorous setting, as I only live a mile from Goodison and take it for granted, so enjoy, lads!

Add Your Comments

In order to post a comment, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.

» Log in now

Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and Talking Points submissions across the site.

About these ads

© ToffeeWeb